I had a stack of China related posts ready to write while I was there. But, then things got c-r-a-z-y. One thing I wanted to talk about were the custom clothes I had made in China. I had two suits, four shirts made, but I was really excited about these lace dresses.
As you may recall, I spotted these laces while in China at the Silk Bund Spinning Market. I paid about$15 usd a yard for them and was feeling a little taken to the cleaners. But, I felt better after spotting the same lace in white in Xiamen and they were asking double the price before negotiating. I felt especially good after coming back from China and finding these laces at A Fabric Place for $85 to $110 a yard.
Anywhoo, I decided I wanted to have dresses made rather than sew them myself when I got home. I went online and picked these two styles for inspiration.
Dolce and Gabbana ($3,500)
Second view of DG dress
I’ve never really sewn with lace before and wasn’t all that amped to try anytime soon. So, going to a tailor to have them made in China would also be part of the experience. I also decided to wait until Xiamen instead of Shanghai because of the prices. I knew the labor costs would be half since Xiamen isn’t saturated with Westerners having clothes made.
In Xiamen one of our guides, found a brother, sister and mom who worked out of their home. I showed them the dresses on my iPad and from the September editions of Vogue magazine. They took my measurements and got to work.
Essentially, there is no pattern. They marked my hip, waist and bust measurements right on the fabric.
From there, they draft, again, on the fabric.
If you can imagine, they had appliqued the neckline lace. Something, I just would not have the patience to do.
I went in for about two fittings on the three dresses and here are the results. I had the cream and purple made into the Valentino cap sleeve style. I asked for a side zipper because I didn’t want to ruin the lines of the lace.
I always knew I wanted to wear the cream dress for our rehearsal / welcome dinner. And, Liz looked so cute in the purple version, that she wore it that night too.
Now, on me the cream lace dress is about four inches too long. It would be better just above my knee. The purple proportions are fine.
I’m not tall (or thin) enough to get away with this middy look.
I thought about hacking some off the bottom and reapplying the lace. But, I’m not going to do that.
And, I think it looks prettier with the lace detail (unlike above where it’s turned under). I’m also not going to cut it at the waist, shorten from there, and sew it back. It’s just not in me.
Anywho, Liz wore the purple version that night and looked smashing.
I haven’t gotten to wear the red one yet. Man, red takes terrible pictures. We just finalized details for a post-wedding party his parents are hosting. I thought about wearing it then, but it seems a little fancy for a Sunday afternoon gig.
Overall, I am thrilled with the dresses. They are really beautifully made and I wouldn’t have gotten around to sewing them any time soon. Plus, it was an experience having someone else interpret your idea of a dress. I think being a sewist myself made me super patient with the process. I also knew I needed to give them photos of what I wanted and NOT deviate. Between the language barrier and time, not having a photo is the way to get what you don’t want.
My interpreter this year, Ashley (below) was fascinated by the whole process. But, she too could not understand why I would want to get dresses made when there are H&M and other stores all over China. I also got to bore her pants of with wedding details. Weddings are BIG business in China. Since I was always online ordering stuff for the wedding, she was my one woman focus group.
What is different this year, is she didn’t think I paid too much. Three years ago, my interpreters thought my custom clothes were expensive. But, the economy in China has changed since then and this didn’t seem too high to her.
I’ll post about the suits and shirts another time, I think this post is long enough!